(Pocket-lint) – Some might be forgiven for thinking the FTC’s decision against the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard puts a nail in the merger’s coffin, but there’s a new twist in the ongoing saga. The EU Commission claims its counterpart in the States has made a fundamental error in its summary.
In fact, it goes as far as saying that the US regulator is using an untrue allegation to justify its stance.
As part of the FTC’s complaint against the buyout, it stated that “Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals”. It pointed to the former acquisition of the parent company of Bethesda, ZeniMax, claiming that Microsoft opted to make Starfield and Redfall Xbox exclusives after assuring “EU antitrust authorities” that it wouldn’t. The EU therefore ratified the deal under false promises, it suggests.
This has now been debunked by the EU Commission itself, which has issued a statement claiming the contrary. It counters that it “cleared the Microsoft/ZeniMax transaction unconditionally” and that no such assurances had been given beforehand. In addition, the EU panel believed that “the transaction would not raise competition concerns”.
It has basically given Microsoft a boost in its legal argument against the FTC if and when the case is put before the courts.
One thing’s for sure – don’t expect a resolution anytime soon.
Writing by Rik Henderson.